ClinicalTrials.gov Search

Search for specific clinical trials that are underway using the keyword search below.

Keywords:

Patient support groups also offer information about clinical trials.

Content Provided By

NINDS Disorders is an index of neurological conditions provided by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. This valuable tool offers detailed descriptions, facts on treatment and prognosis, and patient organization contact information for over 500 identified neurological disorders.

  Print-friendly Version

Back Pain

Acute or short-term low back pain generally lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Most acute back pain is the result of trauma to the lower back or a disorder such as arthritis. Pain from trauma may be caused by a sports injury, work around the house or in the garden, or a sudden jolt such as a car accident or other stress on spinal bones and tissues. Symptoms may range from muscle ache to shooting or stabbing pain, limited flexibility and range of motion, or an inability to stand straight. Chronic back pain is pain that persists for more than 3 months. It is often progressive and the cause can be difficult to determine.

Treatment

Most low back pain can be treated without surgery. Treatment involves using over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce discomfort and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation. The goal of treatment is to restore proper function and strength to the back, and prevent recurrence of the injury. Medications are often used to treat acute and chronic low back pain. Effective pain relief may involve a combination of prescription drugs and over-the-counter remedies. Although the use of cold and hot compresses has never been scientifically proven to quickly resolve low back injury, compresses may help reduce pain and inflammation and allow greater mobility for some individuals. Bed rest is recommended for only 1–2 days at most. Individuals should resume activities as soon as possible. Exercise may be the most effective way to speed recovery from low back pain and help strengthen back and abdominal muscles. In the most serious cases, when the condition does not respond to other therapies, surgery may relieve pain caused by back problems or serious musculoskeletal injuries.

Prognosis

Most patients with back pain recover without residual functional loss, but individuals should contact a doctor if there is not a noticeable reduction in pain and inflammation after 72 hours of self-care.  Recurring back pain resulting from improper body mechanics or other nontraumatic causes is often preventable. Engaging in exercises that don't jolt or strain the back, maintaining correct posture, and lifting objects properly can help prevent injuries. Many work-related injuries are caused or aggravated by stressors such as heavy lifting, vibration, repetitive motion, and awkward posture. Applying ergonomic principles — designing furniture and tools to protect the body from injury — at home and in the workplace can greatly reduce the risk of back injury and help maintain a healthy back.

Research

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and other institutes of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conduct pain research in laboratories at the NIH and also support pain research through grants to major medical institutions across the country.  Currently, researchers are examining the use of different drugs to effectively treat back pain, in particular, chronic pain that has lasted at least 6 months. Other studies are comparing different health care approaches to the management of acute low back pain (standard care versus chiropractic, acupuncture, or massage therapy). These studies are measuring symptom relief, restoration of function, and patient satisfaction. Other research is comparing standard surgical treatments to the most commonly used standard nonsurgical treatments to measure changes in health-related quality of life among patients suffering from spinal stenosis.

View a list of studies currently seeking patients.

View more studies on this condition.

Read additional information from Medline Plus.

Organizations

American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA)

Provides self-help coping skills and peer support to people with chronic pain. Sponsors local support groups throughout the U.S. and provides assistance in starting and maintaining support groups.

P.O. Box 850
Rocklin, CA 95677-0850
Tel: 916-632-0922 800-533-3231
Fax: 916-652-8190

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons/ American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons

6300 North River Road
Rosemont, IL 60018
Tel: 847-823-7186
Fax: 847-823-8125

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Information Clearinghouse

1 AMS Circle
Bethesda, MD 20892-3675
Tel: 877-22-NIAMS (226-4267) 301-565-2966 (TTY)
Fax: 301-718-6366

American Association of Neurological Surgeons

5550 Meadowbrook Drive
Rolling Meadows, IL 60008-3852
Tel: 847-378-0500/888-566-AANS (2267)
Fax: 847-378-0600

American Academy of Family Physicians

11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway
Suite 440
Leawood, KS 66211-2672
Tel: 913-906-6000/800-274-2237
Fax: 913-906-6095

American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons

10 Cascade Creek Lane
Las Vegas, NV 89113
Tel: 702-388-7390
Fax: 702-871-4728

American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

330 North Wabash Ave.
Suite 2500
Chicago, IL 60611-7617
Tel: 312-464-9700
Fax: 312-464-0227

<< Back